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The Atlantaean Empire was falling.
It was a colossal empire, stretching across uncounted millions of worlds from one side of the barred-spiral that would one day be called the Milky Way to the other, one hundred thousand light-years and more under a single, never-changing dynasty for as many years of time.
Its fall was colossal, too, for every one of those millions of worlds had to fall as well, and for such a vast and ancient empire to fall should, in the way of all such things, take millennia.
But it did not.
The Empire was falling in a cataclysm that spanned the Galaxy in the time it took to grasp that it could happen, that it was happening, racing outwards from the core and homeworld in a wave of darkness, failing lights and silenced generators, starships drifting powerless or exploding in star-bright flares that threatened to echo sound through the tortured vacuum with their force, cities plunged into night, tools and weapons going dead and useless in the very hands that needed them more than ever. The guardians of the worlds called out their prayers, tried to invoke powers that had been theirs for uncounted centuries, and there was nothing; many simply fell where they stood, while others went mad.
Even the enemies of Atlantaea, the few daring to face her in her unstoppable might, fled in terror from what seemed to be a blight of destruction, racing away from the spiral Galaxy as though they thought the stars themselves would go dark in their turn.
But the stars remained, and so, too, did the architects of the Fall, though they were weakened as well by the awful forces their master and lord had unleashed—or, in greater precision, that their leader had sealed away, that none could ever reach them again, or so it was believed.
Yet even with such power, even with the entirety of a Galaxy crushed beneath the hammer of impossibility, reduced to barbarism and worse, all traces of so vast an Empire could not be erased entirely; not on its homeworld, and certainly not on all of the countless worlds it had once held, or in the limitless spaces between; and there was still something to fear in memory, in knowledge that might be regained… and in the unknown that had founded Atlantaea and might, one day, return…
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